Top 10 Apps for Business
I like transparency. I especially like when people who run businesses share their processes and tips.
Here’s a list of the top 10 apps that we use in our business, mostly day-to-day but some less frequently. You've probably heard of most of them, but let me explain how we use them and what I like about them ...
FREE WITH EMAIL HOSTING
Our email is hosted by Google, and conveniently they give us 30GB of storage space on Google Drive for each account, at a cost of $10 per person. Within this, we use Google Docs and Sheets in place of ye olde Microsoft Word and Excel. The benefit of using Docs is that it automatically saves (which means no nasty accidents with unsaved files), they are incredibly easy to share, and a dream to use when collaborating with others.
1TB = $109/ANNUALLY
We like to travel, even if it’s just out of town for the weekend. In former times, we used USB sticks and external hard drives to hold files and backup to while we were on the run. Nowadays, it's Dropbox all the way. You can selectively sync particular files (which is super handy for smaller-capacity laptops), and have your files automatically backup each time you’re on wi-fi or hotspotting. It takes the pressure off uploading/downloading/forgetting to bring a particular file, and it means that when we are back from hiatus, it's no big deal to sync again and have the most recent file consistent across all devices.
Our accounting app, Xero is a great choice. We used to use with Freshbooks but due to a few limitations, we shifted across to Xero last year and haven’t looked back. Freshbooks didn't have payroll abilities - Xero does - and Xero also imports bank records so you don't have to manually type in each expense or payment. Easy.
Our accountant and bookkeeper have their own logins, we can process payslips, quotes, and invoices really easily, and automate things like invoice reminders when they’re overdue. It is more expensive than Freshbooks, but it's also a lot more streamlined, beautiful to look at, and has way more function than we’ll ever need.
OK, so the downside of Xero is that it doesn’t have an inbuilt timer (which would be SUPER useful since some of our jobs are charged by the hour). Instead, we use Toggl. It’s a really simple, non-demanding app that doesn’t over-complicate its main purpose. We like that.
This is a biggie. Asana is the foundation of the flow of our business. It’s a project management app that allows our team to collaborate on projects, set actionable to-do’s and map out the elements of each job. Being web-based, we all have the latest edits or task lists.
Instagantt syncs with Asana, and allows us to create a timeline chart of a client’s project, broken down into actionable tasks (even allows colour-coding!) We can provide the client with a view-only link so they can check in on the progress of the job whenever they like.
An iPhone app, that is based on the Pomodoro technique of working in small blocks of time for optimum productivity (so they say...). You can alter it but I choose 45 minutes, then have a 7-minute break. It's basically a timer with a gentle alarm.
I use Wunderlist to keep lists of things I need to buy, sell, ideas I have for personal creative projects, movies to download, ummm - buy, packing lists, articles to read, etc. I like to keep lists like these outside of Asana which houses all of our to-do's for work, but Wunderlist is for personal stuff.
A calendar that’s way prettier than Google calendar and iCal. Syncs with Asana, Google, Wunderlist (everything in 1 place! Godsend).
You guessed it, FREE!
Hootsuite is a social media manager, allowing us to manage multiple networks, schedule posts, and engage with our audience, all in one place. We use it to schedule posts on Instagram and Facebook and respond to comments. We batch-process these tasks, so we’ll schedule out a whole month of posts in 1 hit, which takes a couple of house but in the long run, it really cuts down on being short of content to post or maintaining a consistent message or style.
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We have tried and tested many apps and platforms and the combination of these right now seems to be working just as we need them. You can do trials and pay loads of money for fancy things, but as you can see there are plenty of free and overlapping programs that are easy to use and make your working (and personal) life easier.
Because that’s the goal.
... the best productivity tool is the one you actually use.
Find one, stick to it for at least a month and if you’re not into it, find a better one. But don’t be too quick to judge, these tools can be a major time suck and deserve a solid attempt.